Poetry: Levels of Diction

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Last updated: December 9, 2019

Vulgate
The lowest level of diction, vulgate is the language of the common people. Not necessarily containing foul or inappropriate language, it refers simply to unschooled, everyday speech. The term comes from the Latin word vulgus, “mob” or “common place.

Colloquial English
The casual or informal but correct language of ordinary native speakers. Conversational in tone, it may include contractions, slang, and shifts in grammar, vocabulary, and diction.

General English
The ordinary speech of educated native speakers. Most literate speech and writing is general English. Its diction is more educated than colloquial English, yet not as elevated as formal English.

Formal English
The heightened, impersonal language of educated persons, usually only written, although possibly spoken on dignified occasions

Dialect
A particular variety of language spoken by an identifiable regional group or social class of persons.

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